High Co. merges with WPP shops to create pan-Euro web agency network

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PARIS--French marketing services group High Co. has announced the launch of a pan-European Web agency that will merge its existing Internet operations with those of WPP Group-controlled shops in Germany and the U.K.

The new company, Syzygy AG, likely to be based in Frankfurt, will mergeHigh Co.'s French Internet division, Netforce, Paris, with British Web agency Syzygy, London, and German Web agency United Media, Frankfurt, both of which are 100% owned by WPP.

WPP bought a 30% share in High Co. in late 1999 and has promised to help the French agency expand its operations across Europe.

Syzygy will be at the heart of this strategy, High Co. says in a statement. The various elements of the new Web agency recorded billings of nearly $80 million in 1999, a figure likely to progress substantially in 2000 on the strength of planned acquisitions in other European countries.

The agency's existing client list includes traditional industrial and service-sector giants, including European insurance leader AXA, Barclays Bank, BP Amoco and Fiat, as well as dot-com and New Economy giants, such as online auctioneer QXL.com, French e-tailer RueDuCommerce.fr and Germany's Mannesmann.

The creation of a pan-European Web agency comes on the heels of High Co.'s decision earlier this month to launch a pan-European coupon marketing network. The agency laid the first link in this network with the April 3 purchase of Belgian coupon specialist Promo-Control/Fast Movers.

High Co. officials say the overall strategy is to offer large international clients a full range of marketing services options at the pan-European level.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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